Making A Difference Award 2007 Recipients

Mark & Freda Warren

Clay Warren, the only child of Mark and Freda Warren, was a freshman and pledge of a fraternity at TexasTechUniversity in 2002. Clay was returning from a fraternity initiation retreat and died as a result of a truck roll over accident, where Clay was ejected from the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle, another pledge, had consumed alcohol at the retreat that was provided by the actives.  Since Clay’s death, the Warrens have worked to turn their tragedy into a number of projects to benefit their community. Their first act was to donate Clay’s organs to LifeGift that gave life to four Texans. The Warrens also established two scholarships at Plainview High School in memory of Clay, and a Clay Warren “Spirit of Encouragement” Award. The Warrens used a portion of their settlement to create an endowment at TexasTechUniversity that established the Clay Warren Risk Management Retreat to help prevent a similar tragedy. Finally, the Warrens brought Clay’s story to the Legislature and, as a result, legislation was passed requiring all Texas colleges and universities to provide risk management programs. Clay’s family was represented by Bill Whitehurst, Chip Brees and Michelle Cheng of Whitehurst, Harkness, Ozmun & Brees in Austin.

Khongavay & Soukha Phoummarath

The Phoummarath’s son Phanta “Jack” Phoummarath was freshman student and fraternity member at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005. At a required fraternity initiation ceremony, Jack and the other pledges were required to drink all the alcohol provided to them by the active members. Jack became incapacitated as a result of consuming too much alcohol. When the event ended Jack was left alone and died. The Phoummaraths have taken proceeds from the settlement of their case and are creating an endowment at the University of Texas in honor of their son. The endowment will pay $10,000 for each year the student attends the University of Texas, and the family asks the student to implement a program to promote alcohol awareness among the students. The family also developed a professionally produced educational video regarding the dangers of hazing and binge drinking. This video will be distributed to universities across the nation. The Phoummarath family hopes their efforts will make a difference and prevent other families from losing a child in such a senseless tragedy. Jack’s family was represented by Randall O. Sorrels of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels & Friend in Houston.